ICAA Private Morocco: Casablanca and the Imperial Cities



ICAA Private Morocco: Casablanca and the Imperial Cities
ICAA Private Morocco: Casablanca and the Imperial Cities
Exemplary Sites, Private Residences & Gardens of Rabat, Casablanca, Fes, Meknes & Marrakech
Sponsored by Institute of Classical Architecture & Art
Arranged by Pamela Huntington Darling, Exclusive Cultural Travel Programs
Saturday, May 10th to Sunday, May 18th, 2014: 8 days & 8 nights
The Kingdom of Morocco's rich and ancient culture bears the traces of conquerors, invaders, traders, nomads and colonists—from
the Phoenicians and Romans to the Spanish and French. An extravagant mosaic of stunning landscapes, richly textured cities and
welcoming people, Morocco's high mountain ranges, lush forests, sun-baked desserts and exotic cities, including many UNESCO
World Heritage sites, make for a traveler's paradise.
Gateway to Africa, the influence of the many peoples and cultures that have left their mark on this storied country is captured in
the architecture and monuments, gardens, art, music and cuisine. The bustling bazaars and splendid Medinas, Kasbahs and
mosques of Casablanca and the Imperial Cities offer travelers a tantalizing mix of ancient and modern.
For eight magical days, in the company of our expert lecturer, we will explore some of Morocco's most important sites and
monuments under privileged conditions and received by officials and prominent members of the community. We will enjoy rare
and unique visits, receptions and dinners with the owners of superb private riads (palaces), and villas celebrated for their
architecture, gardens, interior décor and world-class art collections, details of which will be sent to confirming participants.
Tour Highlights
Extra Day: Friday, May 9th: Rabat
We recommend that you arrive in Casablanca one day prior to the official program. Guests will be met at the Casablanca
airport and travel by private car (at cost, count $100 for one or two passengers) to Rabat where they will be greeted by Pamela
Huntington Darling and our expert lecturer, Khalid Mouzaki, a native of Casablanca, at the elegant Villa Mandarine hotel.
(3 nights: extra night of May 9th at cost, count $275 per room)
Afternoon welcome tea and presentation of Morocco and our program with our expert lecturer, Khalid Mouzaki
Evening cocktails offered by the Villa Mandarine on the terrace and dinner in the stylish hotel dining room, renowned for its
gastronomic French cuisine (at cost, count $45 per person).
Day 1: Saturday, May 10th: Rabat & Salé, UNESCO World Heritage Sites
We begin our morning exploring the royal necropolis of Chellah's impressive Roman and
medieval ruins, admiring the ruined mosque's graceful arches and striking minaret, home to
nesting storks. We will continue to the fortified town of Salé, an ancient Roman settlement
and hideaway of the Barbary pirates, with professors Mekki and Jamila Zouaoui, who
will introduce us to the remarkable Marina on the Bou Regreg estuary and the 13th-century
fortified gates and ancient ramparts.
Lunch at the historic private riads of two distinguished academics. After our morning tour, two scholars will lead us on a rare
visit through their admirable private family homes in Salé’s Medina. We will enjoy a homemade lunch in the riad's inner gardens
and afterward discover the superb inner courtyard of a beautiful adjoining riad.
In the afternoon our hosts and expert guide will lead us through the marvelous 18th-century fortification Tour des Larmes
(Tower of Tears), the 12th-century Great Mosque of Salé, one of the oldest religious mosques in Morocco, and its adjacent 14thcentury Madrasa school for Islamic theology and law.
Late afternoon reception at the private residence and showroom of fashion designer Fadila El Gadi, with jewelry designer
Amina Agueznay. A wonderful opportunity to meet two acclaimed Moroccan fashion designers in Fadila El Gadi’s private home
and to discover their stylish handmade creations.
Pamela Huntington Darling -- Exclusive Cultural Travel Programs
Tel + 33 (0)1 45 67 62 81 – Cell + 33 (0) 6 75 86 67 75 – Email: [email protected]
Dinner at the Dinarjat, with live Andalusian music. Set in a magnificent 17th-century Arab-Andalusian riad in the heart of the
ancient Rabat Medina, this treasured restaurant is renowned for its splendid décor and traditional Moroccan cuisine.
Day 2: Sunday, May 11th: Rabat & Salé
In the morning we will discover the elegant architecture of lush Rabat, Morocco’s capital,
and the stately 19th-century Royal Palace and gardens, seat of the Moroccan government. We
will visit the majestic Hassan Tower, emblem of Rabat, and the unfinished 12th-century Hassan
Mosque, whose architecture influenced the Kasbah and Koutoubia, and the Giralda mosques in
Marrakech and Seville, Spain. We will view the magnificent Mohamed V Mausoleum, resting
place of two kings and one of the rare shrines open to non-Muslims. We visit the stunning Villa
des Arts and gardens, built in 1929, one of Rabat’s Art Deco gems, now a cultural center.
Lunch at Villa Mandarine. After our morning visits, a refreshing lunch awaits us on the Villa's beautiful outdoor terrace with
views over the gardens.
Late afternoon visit to the striking 12th-century Kasbah of the Oudayas, Rabat’s original citadel. We will walk through the
Kasbah’s delightful Andalusian garden and enjoy tea and magnificent views of the Bou Regreg River and Salé. We will explore
tiny streets lined with charming traditional homes; a village-like quarter inhabited by local artisans and painters.
Cocktail reception at the private residence of Yasmina Filali, President of the Orient-Occident Foundation. Daughter of the
former Prime Minister of Morocco, Yasmina Filali and her husband, professor and author Abdelhak Serhane, will warmly
welcome us to their riad, Maison du Cadi, in Rabat’s charming Medina, for cocktails and a mini fashion show. An excellent
opportunity to meet distinguished members of the local community.
Private dinner with our hosts Yasmina Filali and Abdelhak Serhane at Riad Senso. We will savor a delicious light Moroccan
meal to the strains of live traditional music as guests of the Foundation’s restaurant, an esteemed address in Rabat.
Day 3: Monday, May 12th: Rabat to Meknes, Volubilis and Fes, UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Less than two hours by private coach past cork-oak forests and flowered countryside, we begin
our day's exploration in the imperial city of Meknes, the "Versailles of Morocco" and UNESCO
World Heritage Site. Dating to the 10th-century, Meknes enjoyed its golden age during the reign
of Moulay Ismail, who came to power in 1672 and built this imperial city to rival Louis XIV's
Versailles (the two rulers became allies).
Lunch at Chez Philippe. We'll enjoy a gourmet French lunch at this stylish modern bistro
prepared for us by the great chef himself.
Afternoon visit to Zerhoun, Volubilis and Fes. A 40-minute trip by private coach brings us to
the holy city of Zerhoun, a lovely pilgrimage center dramatically set between two hillsides,
where winding picturesque streets open onto captivating views. Just a few miles away, we arrive
in Volubilis, one-time capital of the Roman province of Mauritania Tingitana and the ancient
meeting point between Romans and Berbers. This UNESCO World Heritage Site encompasses
Morocco's most impressive Roman ruins, which we will view in the same magical mid-afternoon
light that enchanted Matisse and Delacroix.
Dinner at Palais Jamai's exquisite Al Fassia restaurant, Fes. We continue to Fes where we'll stay at the gorgeous 5-star Palais
Jamai Hotel, built in 1879. We will dine in splendor on gastronomic Moroccan fare amidst the Al Fassia's elaborate décor, or out
on the terrace under the stars, accompanied by live Andalusian music and dancers. (3 nights)
Day 4: Tuesday, May 13th: Fes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the oldest Imperial City
Morning visit to the medieval Medina. Dating from 808 AD, the magnificent city of Fes was the
spiritual, artistic, economic and intellectual capital of Morocco. The greatest of the four imperial
cities, Fes is renowned for its palaces, lush gardens, beautiful private homes, exquisite mosques and
the world's largest and most perfectly preserved medieval city. We begin our day at Borj Sud, one
of the city's two fortresses, celebrated for its panoramic views of Fes and the Medina, where we will
discover the superb Attarine School, built in 1325.
Lunch at Riad Fes. We will enjoy a light gourmet lunch at this majestic palace, member of Relais
& Chateaux and an authentic example of Hispanic-Moorish architecture, with breathtaking panoramic views of the Medina and the
Atlas mountains.
Afternoon visits. After a relaxing lunch, we will enjoy a privileged visit by private invitation with the owners to the exquisite
El Mokri Palace (closed to the public). An extraordinary example of Moroccan architecture, the palace covers 220,000 square
feet, 200,000 of which are gardens. Our journey continues to the 14th-century Royal Palace in the Medina and the Mellah district,
once home to Morocco's largest Jewish population.
Dinner at L'Amandier. We will enjoy an exceptional dinner, rich in the flavors of traditional Fassi cuisine, on the terrace of
the Palais Faraj, an architectural gem of exquisite refinement emanating the ancient culture and history of Fes, with stunning
views of the Old Medina.
Pamela Huntington Darling -- Exclusive Cultural Travel Programs
Tel + 33 (0)1 45 67 62 81 – Cell + 33 (0) 6 75 86 67 75 – Email: [email protected]
Day 5: Wednesday, May 14th: Fes, the Atlas Cedar Forests and Ifrane
Morning visit to Imouzzer Kandar and Ifrane. We will travel by private coach past fields of wildflowers and date orchards
stopping along the way at Imouzzer Kandar, a smaller version of Ifrane, built by the French authorities in the early 20th century.
We will continue on to the mountain resort of Ifrane, perched in the Middle Atlas mountain range among stately cedar forests.
Noted for its charming Swiss-style chalets, immaculate gardens and crystalline lake, Ifrane was built by the French in 1929 as a
colonial retreat and still attracts affluent Moroccans for its cool summer climate.
Lunch at Hotel Michlifen, Ifrane. We will enjoy a delectable bistro lunch of contemporary Moroccan cuisine at the luxurious
Hotel Michlifen, offering dramatic views of mountains and forests.
Relaxing free afternoon in Fes. Guests can explore the Medina's winding streets with our expert guide, relax by the hotel pool,
enjoy a spa treatment or play a round of golf at the hotel's 18-hole course.
Dinner at La Maison Bleue, one of the finest restaurants in Fes, housed in a splendid residence, featuring colorful Moroccan
zellij tiles and fountains, that was once a cultural and intellectual hub owned by prominent astrologer and professor Mohammed El
Abbadi. We will savor traditional Moroccan cuisine in an intimate and romantic atmosphere.
Day 6: Thursday, May 15th: Fes to Casablanca to Marrakech
Morning visit to Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca. Our day begins with a visit to the
Hassan II Mosque, a stupendous architectural achievement jutting dramatically into the
Atlantic ocean. King Hassan II commissioned the mosque in 1980 after being inspired by a
verse from the Qur'an. One of the world's largest mosques—and one of the few mosques in
Morocco open to non-Muslims—it took six years to build and cost over $750 million.
Lunch at Rick's Café. Set in a stunning riad restored by renowned Moroccan architect
Hakim Benjelloun, with the celebrated American interior designer Bill Willis, Rick’s Café recreates the bar immortalized in the
movie Casablanca. Located on the edge of the old Medina with sweeping views of the city’s port, this chic restaurant, bar and jazz
club offers excellent cuisine and is filled with architectural and decorative details reminiscent of the film.
Afternoon arrival in Marrakech, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After lunch and a pleasant 2.5-hour journey by private
coach, we will arrive in peerless Marrakech, where we will stay at one of the city's two top hotels: the elegant La Maison Arabe
or 5-star Les Jardins de la Koutoubia. Called "the Rose City" for it's beautiful salmon-pink buildings, Marrakech is an
irresistible mix of bustling markets, winding lanes, and stunning architecture. Once a major stop on the ancient Timbuktu caravan
route, the city pulsates with an intoxicating energy fueled by its remarkable diversity, mystery, excitement and romance. (3 nights)
Private evening reception and buffet dinner at the residence of Naymah Benjelloun, President of the Foundation Omar
Benjelloun. Madame Benjelloun will warmly welcome us for a private visit and elegant buffet dinner in her home, Dar Chajara,
in an ancient tower next to the Jardin Majorelle, the first residence in Morocco decorated by the renowned American designer Bill
Willis, who captured the essence of Moroccan style for such distinguished clients as the Rothschilds, the Gettys and Yves SaintLaurent and Pierre Bergé. Her late husband Omar Benjelloun was a leading industrialist and art collector who funded the
restoration of several important historic sites in Marrakech. A wonderful way to meet a distinguished local figure.
Day 7: Friday, May 16th: Marrakech, A UNESCO World Heritage Site
Morning visits to Marrakech's extraordinary architectural sites in the Medina. We begin our day with a
tour of the magnificent 12th-century Almoravid Koubba, then on to the exceptional Ben Youssef Madrasa,
the largest Islamic theological college in North Africa, founded in the 14th century and reconstructed in the
16th century. From here we journey to the exceptional Marrakech Museum, in the Dar Menebhi Palace, an
example of classical Andalusian architecture, with central fountains and intricate tile work and carvings
featuring exhibits of both modern and traditional Moroccan art with fine examples of historical books, coins
and pottery of the Moroccan Jewish, Berber and Arab cultures.
Exclusive lunch at the Villa Oasis, private residence of the late Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre
Bergé. Pierre Bergé and Madison Cox, prominent landscape architect and Director of the Majorelle
Gardens, extend a rare special invitation to this lavish private residence, closed to the public,
designed by their friend the renowned interior designer Bill Willis. Madison Cox and Quito Fierro,
Director of Communications, will warmly welcome us. A rare invitation indeed!
Afternoon visit to Dar es Saada, the Majorelle Gardens and the Berber Museum. We will enjoy
yet another privileged invitation to Dar es Saada, Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé's private
guesthouse, closed to the public. Artist Jacques Majorelle's last home, it is considered one of Bill Willis’s signature works.
Afterward, we will visit the exquisite gardens created by Majorelle and the Berber Museum, displaying a superb collection of
Berber objects from the diverse regions of Morocco.
We end our afternoon with a private visit to the incomparable Hotel Royal Mansour, owned by
the royal family of Morocco. The ultimate in luxury, the Royal Mansour palace is considered the
most extraordinary hotel in the world for its architecture and interior design. Built with no expense
spared by the foremost artisans of Morocco, it exemplifies a sumptuous traditional Moroccan style.
Pamela Huntington Darling -- Exclusive Cultural Travel Programs
Tel + 33 (0)1 45 67 62 81 – Cell + 33 (0) 6 75 86 67 75 – Email: [email protected]
Evening reception at the palatial private residence of a distinguished Belgian family. Our illustrious hosts extend a special
invitation to their exquisite private residence in the Medina—five riads transformed by the architect Hakim Benjelloun and
interior designer Bill Willis into one superb residence, the quintessence of architecture, decorative arts, terraces, gardens and taste!
Dinner at Les Trois Saveurs at La Maison Arabe, offering the finest in French-Moroccan cuisine prepared by a celebrated chef
and served on a terrace overlooking the lush gardens. A coveted culinary experience.
Day 8: Saturday, May 17th: Marrakech
Morning visit to Marrakech's Mellah (former Jewish quarter). We begin our
day at the spectacular Saâdian Tombs, resting place of the 16th-century Saâdian
dynasty's princes, sultans and various royals. Sealed during the reign of Sultan
Moulay Ismail (1672-1727), the tombs were only rediscovered in 1917. We continue
to the once-magnificent El Badi Palace, built in 1578 by the Midas of Marrakech,
Saâdian sultan Ahmed el-Mansour, with 360 rooms surrounded by a vast central
courtyard of pools, fountains and sunken gardens. Its restored architecture and
original 12th-century silver-and-gold inlaid marquetry pulpit are still outstanding.
After refreshments, we will visit the magnificent Bahia Palace and gardens, built from 1860-1874 and embellished in 1894-1900
by the Grand Vizier Si Moussa, who named it after his favored wife. The palace's carved, gilded and inlaid wood ceilings and
intricate tile work are prime examples of the Moorish-Andalusian architectural style.
Lunch at Dar Abiad, the private residence of celebrated French 1930’s antiques dealers. Our prominent hosts will welcome
us to their admirable villa in the Palmeraie, built in 1983 by the architect Elie Mowyal in the traditional Moroccan style, with
magnificent gardens. Another exclusive invitation!
Afternoon at the Souk. We will spend a delightful afternoon with our expert guide exploring Marrakech's vast and colorful Souk,
an extravagant labyrinth of open-air markets overflowing with authentic local handicrafts, spices, nuts and fruit.
Or: Guests may register (at cost, $120) for a gourmet cooking class at the Maison Arabe, 3:00–7:00 pm.
Evening Reception at an astounding private riad in the Medina and farewell dinner at La Mamounia. We will be graciously
received by the distinguished French owners of an admirable private residence in Marrakech, followed by dinner at La
Mamounia, set in the riad's lush park and offering an opulent décor, fine cuisine and live Moroccan music.
Day 9: Sunday, May 18th: Breakfast and adieu until the next exclusive tour!
Departure: Marrakech to Casablanca Airport. After breakfast and goodbyes, guests will travel by private chauffeur-driven
car, a pleasant 3-hour drive, to Casablanca airport.
Accommodation: All rooms are spacious, elegantly appointed and equipped with wifi and air conditioning.
May 9th-12th: the lovely Villa Mandarine hotel is set among seven acres of lush flower gardens and mandarin groves. The
hotel's exotic Berber-inspired décor has been meticulously restored to splendor with all the modern comforts, including a pool and
full-service spa. www.villamandarine.com. The night of May 9th is at cost, $275 per room, breakfast included.
May 12th-15th: Five-star Palais Jamai Hotel in Fes is luxuriously housed in a 19th-century palace among landscaped gardens
and ramparts with glorious views of the nearby Medina. www.sofitel-legend.com/fes/en/.
May 15th-18th: Marrakech's La Maison Arabe, optimally situated in the Medina, is considered among the best small luxury
hotels in the city, a luxury riad renowned for its old-school elegance, exemplary service and internationally acclaimed restaurant,
www.lamaisonarabe.com; or Les Jardins de la Koutoubia, a 10-minute walk from La Maison Arabe, this 5-star hotel situated in
the Medina is authentic, with a Clarins Spa, heated pool, and gourmet cuisine; www.lesjardinsdelakoutoubia.com.
Tour Price: $7,250 per person, double occupancy, and $8,250 per person, single occupancy; plus a fully tax-deductible $500
contribution to the Institute's Annual Fund. Members at the Contributor or Individual, Professional level ($150), or higher, are
welcome to attend ICAA tours. The tour price is based on 20 participants, maximum 21.
Tour Price Includes: 8 days of visits and receptions; 8 nights hotel accommodation; 8 breakfasts, 6
lunches, 6 dinners; transportation in a modern air-conditioned coach; all private visits and expert lecturers.
Registration: To assure availability, kindly reserve before January 31st, 2014.
For more information & to reserve: please email: [email protected] or call
Tel. +33 1 45 67 62 81, Paris, France. Website: www.exclusiveculturaltours.com
Due to the nature of our private visits and receptions, the date of a visit or reception may change or be
replaced by an equivalent in the coming months, in which case, confirmed participants will be notified.
Pamela Huntington Darling -- Exclusive Cultural Travel Programs
Tel + 33 (0)1 45 67 62 81 – Cell + 33 (0) 6 75 86 67 75 – Email: [email protected]